Washington Prowler

Behind the Counter Encounters

Gore team scurries to gin up sales. Also: Grambling Clinton's new Southern strategy.

By 11.26.02

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LOSING THE POPULAR VOTE
The sad tale of Al Gore being condemned to the remainder bin of history continues to spin out. On Monday night, Henry Holt, the publisher for Al and Tipper Gore's books, Joined at the Heart and The Spirit of Family, a companion coffee-table tome, released a statement saying that it was satisfied with sales of the books, and that the media blitz the Gores had undertaken was but the first leg of one that will continue well into the holiday season.

"They're going to get this thing into the bottom rung of the New York Times list if it means keeping the Gores on the road for six months," says a publishing source. "Holt has too much invested in this to walk away, and the Gores aren't letting them wiggle out of anything."

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Joined at the Heart was teetering at 21 on the "extended" New York Times bestseller list. And the Gores are taking news of their tanking books as if this were Florida all over again. "They are marshaling the troops, getting all of their old friends to speak up and spin for them," says a former Gore staffer. "They're even looking into bulk purchases of the books that could eventually be donated to libraries and the like, anything to boost sales."

The bulk sales gimmick was used by supporters of Hillary Clinton when her book, It Takes a Village, was selling poorly some years ago.

The Gore book debacle has other Democrats -- and their publishers -- unhappy. Soon to be former Sen. Majority Leader Tom Daschle had accepted a six-figure advance to write a book about Washington and policy; now there are rumors that that book may be off the table given the party's election failure and Daschle's uncertain political future. Other pols, including John Kerry, John Edwards, Dick Gephardt and Joe Lieberman were all signing, negotiating or exploring book deals as the Gore books were hitting the bookshelves.

"The only two politicians today who can sell books are Bush and, to a lesser degree, John McCain," says a Washington-based book agent. "These are the guys people want to read about, Democrats just aren't sellable right now. In six months, when the presidential races really kicks in, maybe. But that's a big maybe, especially if we're in a war."

GRAMBLING ON LANDRIEU
With the black vote key to the re-election prospects of Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, her campaign is mulling whether or not to bring Bill Clinton down for Saturday's Bayou Classic football game between historically black Grambling State University and Southern University. Landrieu plans to attend the event and the two would most likely make a joint appearance.

The decision to bring in Clinton may prove to be a decisive move. A new Southern Media and Opinion Research poll showed Landrieu with a 16 point lead over Republican state Elections Commissioner Suzanne Haik Terrell. In that survey, Landrieu garnered a little over 80 percent of the black vote. Her campaign believes she needs to pull in better than 90 percent to ensure victory.

"A Clinton appearance down here in the black community could be huge," says a state Democratic operative. "We just don't know what it would do for us elsewhere in the state. Our hunch is that it would hurt us badly."

To that end, the state party is doing a quick poll to see what a Clinton appearance with Landrieu would do to her numbers, particularly in rural Bayou country, where the politics -- even Democratic politics -- tends to run conservative.

As with all things Clinton, the state party would pick up travel expenses for the weekend in the Big Easy.

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